Bishop Hegarty visits Irish emigrant pastoral centre in the USA

02 May 2005


2 MAY 2005



The Bishop of Derry and Chair of the Irish Bishops’ Commission for Emigrants,
Dr Séamus Hegarty, along with its Director, Fr Alan Hilliard, are in
Washington DC this week as part of the Irish bishops “2005 Supporting
Irish Abroad” (SIA) campaign.

Bishop Hegarty will be visiting Irish emigrant pastoral centres in Boston,
New York and Philadelphia in order to meet Irish emigrants, chaplains,
staff and volunteers.  On Friday next, May 6th, Bishop Hegarty will meet
and be briefed by Mr Mark Franken, Director of the Migration and Refugee
Service of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB),
regarding the US bishops’ policy on improving conditions for immigrants.

Bishop Hegarty said, “When I launched the 2005 SIA campaign in March, I
indicated that this year we would focus on the challenges facing our
people who are living hidden lives in the US.  Many families at home
are keenly aware of this situation as it may apply to their brothers,
sisters, nephews, nieces and friends.

“In order to improve the plight of the undocumented, we shall work with
the Migration and Refugee Service of the United States Catholic Conference
of Bishops.  Of particular interest is the current initiative being undertaken
by the USCCB under the auspices of its Catholic Campaign for Immigration
Reform entitled ‘Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope’. This campaign
is based on the principles set out in their pastoral letter Strangers no
Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, which was jointly published with
the Mexican Bishop’s Conference in 2003.”

Bishop Hegarty concluded, “Fr Hilliard and I are travelling to the US this
week to discuss, with my colleagues in the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference,
how best the Irish and US bishops can work together to alleviate the plight
of our most vulnerable migrants.”

Notes for Editors

* The Irish Bishops’ Conference established a dedicated service in 1957 –
the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants (IECE) – to help co-ordinate
support for Irish emigrants in the UK.  Since that time this outreach has
been extended to Europe, the USA and Australia.

* In February 2004 at the Irish Centre in Camden Town, Bishop Séamus Hegarty,
Chairman of the IECE, launched the Supporting Irish Abroad (SIA) awareness
campaign.  Its focus was on the Irish living in Britain, especially in London,
but who emigrated in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s and are now at the greatest
risk in terms of their physical and mental health.

* The acronym SIA is also an Irish word meaning ‘longer’ or ‘farther’. The
emigrant is one who often feels cut of from the familiar surroundings of
home. Indeed a major part of our Biblical history focuses on God’s people
exiled from their home land.   ‘How can we sing a song to the Lord in a
foreign land’ Ps 137:4.

* The 2005 SIA awareness campaign includes the publication and circulation
of a dedicated IECE newsletter and “Who Are You Missing Poster” poster to
parishes across Ireland and to Irish chaplaincies abroad.  All members of
the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee have been sent this material which
is available to download and for publication on the home page of You can support the 2005 SIA campaign by
contacting us at: [email protected]

* The objectives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’
immigration reform campaign are:
– To educate the public, especially the Catholic community, including Catholic public
officials, about church teaching on migration and immigrants;
– To create political will for positive immigration reform;
– To enact legislative and administrative reforms based on the principles
articulated in the pastoral letter;
– To organize Catholic networks to assist qualified immigrants in obtaining
the benefits of the reforms.

* The 2004 SIA awareness campaign was supported by people across Ireland and
it raised €614,068 for the Episcopal Commission for Emigrants.  The money
is being spent on outreach services in Britain for the elderly and isolated
Irish, and on the recruitment and training of volunteers in the UK.

For further information please contact Martin Long 086 1727 678